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Get Your Wakeful Child to Sleep… Finally!

healthy sleep

If your children (and you) sleep through the night, you are the envy of parents everywhere! So many things can get in the way of getting a consistently good night’s rest– overstimulation, anxiety, depression, difficulty with making transitions, etc. Maybe your sweetie pie repeatedly begs for one more drink of water, worries about the next school day, or can’t seem to turn off their motor at the end of the day. As a parent it can be so hard to keep your wits about you when you’re tired, they’re tired, and no one is getting their much needed rest. If you’re ready to be proactive in support of healthy sleep patterns for your wakeful child, keep reading.

How Much Sleep Should Kiddo Get?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you and your littles strive to get the following amount of hours of sleep per night:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
  • School Age (6-13 years): 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17 years): 8-10 hours
  • Adults (18-64 years): 7-9 hours
  • Older Adults (65+ years): 7-8 hours

Now, there is a reason that a range of hours is listed for each age group and that is that people are all different. If you have questions about whether or not your unique child is getting enough sleep, consult with your child’s physician.

3 Tips for Getting Your Child to Sleep
  • Be Consistent. You’ve most likely heard this tip before. Getting your child or yourself into a rhythm and routine each day is crucial for getting restful sleep. They should have a set bedtime and wake time regardless of whether it’s a weekday, weekend, or holiday. Additionally, get a routine in place for bedtime that includes relaxing activities such as bath time and reading, or meditation and journaling. These consistent rhythms and routines will keep your kiddo’s sleep cycles (circadian rhythm) in check and their natural melatonin production operating optimally.  For more information on balancing natural melatonin levels, check out the tips below from Dr. Sage, Naturopathic Family Physician at Intuition Wellness.

Video not working?  Try this: Get Your Child to Sleep: Rebalance Melatonin Production

  • Create a Sanctuary. Your child’s sleeping area should be simple and their bed should be a sleep-only zone. This means that they shouldn’t be doing their homework or even reading in their bed. Creating the right mental association for them will essentially train their brain to relax once they lay down in their bed. It’s ok for your child to have some sort of transitional object, such as a stuffed animal, in bed with them. Yet, keep the space uncluttered overall to maintain your sleep-only zone. In addition, create a home culture that doesn’t allow electronics in bed. The blue light emitted from screens can be especially problematic for sleep-wake cycles. Plus,  keeping screen distractions away from bed will also create healthy bedtime boundaries. It’s also best if your child can be awakened by natural light. However, most school days start so early that this often isn’t an option. If getting up before sunrise is truly necessary, consider purchasing a light box, which will also support natural melatonin production.
  •  Exercise and Movement. Children who stay active during the day often sleep more restfully in the evening. If your child has a tendency to be a couch potato, there are many strategies you can try to get them moving. Finding activities that they enjoy is especially important. They should refrain from heavy exercise close to bedtime. Activities such as slow yoga or stretching are ok in the evenings and you can even combine them with meditation or other relaxation techniques.

Looking for more? Check out a more detailed version of our sleep tips ready for print or to be bookmarked.

8 Tips for Healthy Sleep Hygiene
Printable Tips for Getting Your Child to Sleep!

At Intuition Wellness Center, we specialize in health and wellness services for children, young adults, and their families. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

 

 

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3 Ways to Create Energy from Within

It’s impossible to nurture and bring joy to our children when we, ourselves, are depleted. Yet feeling strong, vibrant and alive, even in the face of the energy and time demands of parenting, is possible! Rather than attempting to find energy outside of yourself in the form of sugary foods, caffeine, or over working, seek Prana!

Prana

A Sanskrit word often used in yoga, prana translates to life force or vital principle. We maintain and build prana through the quality of our days and through the food that we eat. From a yogic perspective, prana is key to both creating a healthy body and to nurturing our minds and spirits.

3 Ways to Prana

Breathe Consciously. First, in yoga we do pranayama or breathing exercises. These exercises expand or build prana through conscious breath in conjunction with rhythmic movement. We direct our breath in specific ways in conjunction with a specific count or rhythm. It is also through our breath that we can change or manage our energy and emotions.

TRY THIS: Begin by letting your breath relax to its normal pace and depth.  Once you feel ready, place one hand on your lower abdomen and one on your upper chest. Begin to inhale through the nose conscious filling the abdomen, then expanding the chest and finally lifting the upper clavicle.  When you are ready to exhale, the upper chest area/clavicle area deflates, then the chest area and finally the lower abdomen is drawn in as it too deflates. The breath moves through each segment of the body with a smooth motion.  Take your time as you complete both your inhale and your exhale. Practice a few rounds and begin to notice how you feel.

Slow Down. In addition to taking time to breathe, we can also build prana by taking time to simply slow down, experience a moment of gratitude and notice the magic of our everyday experience.  Spending quiet time in nature also builds and maintains prana.  Even just a little bit of time each day breathing fresh air, feeling the support of the earth and connecting to our sensory experiences can help build and restore our energy.

TRY THIS: When riding in the car and stopping at stop lights, make a little time to pause. Teach your child that what we do at stop lights is take deep breaths and show them how to breathe from the abdomen during these pauses.

Do What You Love. Taking time to do what you love also builds prone. Each of us has had the experience of timelessness when doing what we love. This might be spending time in nature, making art, or spending time with friends. Time stands still, your energy is sustained, and you feel deeply nurtured.

TRY THIS: Take time this month to do what brings you joy. Find a class or activity that supports prana, such as Intuition Wellness Center’s Nurtured Mothering.

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written By: Navneet Lahti, LCSW; Wellness Director,  Child & Family Clinician

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Kids’ Self Care: How sick is too sick?

On my graduation day from high school, a good friend was given a fancy certificate for maintaining a record of perfect attendance every single year of his entire history of schooling. He hadn’t missed a single day since he started in kindergarten. Not for illness. Not for a death. Not for vacation. Not for anything. Not one day missed for 13 years. I remember how, in the months leading up to the end of our senior year, he balked at “senior skip day” and how he came to school with the flu and all sorts of other symptoms. He was determined to keep up his unmarred record and his teachers and classmates, myself included, egged him on. There was something I found respectable about his willingness to power through, as if he was some sort of martyr for having survived cases of pink eye and the chicken pox while concurrently completing his multiplication tables and learning state capitals. It does seem a pretty remarkable feat.

Now, a full-on grown up, I still fight an internalized message— one that says things like, “you’re not going to let a little thing like a cold stand in your way, are you?” Somehow, whether through a family cultural message or through a broader societal message, I seem to have gotten confused about the value of caring for myself and allowing my body to rest and heal. There are other underlying messages contributing, too, of course. Outright denial tends to complicate things as does my own family’s hesitation to pay for health care when I was a kid or to miss work due to the financial implications. These days, I’m usually able to engage with my rational brain in these instances, but it still takes a good amount of effort. Another thing that I understand much better now also is the importance of thinking about how my own actions impact others— that is, the spread of my illness to others is something that I take far more seriously, especially given who I work with at Intuition Wellness Center.

Today my fellow team members and I work with a vulnerable population of children and young people. Some of them are living with chronic illness, both physical and mental. It can be very difficult, even for a seasoned professional, to determine what symptoms are rooted in a physical ailment and what is purely emotional. Part of the difficulty is that, the more we understand, the more we realize that often they are not truly distinct parts or processes in our bodies. Symptoms such as fatigue, decrease in appetite, stomachaches and headaches could be part of the flu or an ongoing chronic “body-based” medical issue and they could also be symptoms of depression or anxiety. Those with chronic physical disease are also more susceptible to mental illness as the impact on their social relationships and everyday functioning can weigh heavily on their emotional health. Because proper diagnosis is more complicated when there are both physical and mental health issues, many people do not get proper care for one or the other or both. Mental illness is often associated with poorer diets and exercise routines as well, which make it both more difficult to stay physically healthy and to recuperate from physical illness as well as to improve from the mental illness itself.

Not everyone has been inundated with the same messages that I received as a kid. Among the team members I work with and the clients I see, many are stellar at listening to their bodies and giving themselves the proper time to rest and recuperate. We do often get the question from parents, however, as to whether they should bring their sick child in for their psychotherapy appointment. It does feel like a tough thing to navigate for some kids who seem to be so susceptible to illness that they rarely seem to be symptom-free come flu season. Many parents also do seem to understand that the discomfort of physical illness seems to intensify some of the symptoms of mental illness (and be intensified by mental illness) and want support for their children during this time. While often I do emphasize the importance of regular attendance in psychotherapy sessions, when a child is truly physically ill with something like the flu or has some other contagious condition, my answer is consistent— stay home.

Keeping your kids home from school, community events or their counseling appointments when they are sick helps them recover sooner and prevents them from spreading the illness to others. Staying home from an appointment with a team member at Intuition Wellness Center due to a contagious condition, also means helping to prevent particularly vulnerable children and young people from potentially catching something that could contribute to worsened mental illness as well.

But how sick is too sick for an appointment at Intuition Wellness Center?

• A temperature over 100 degrees;
• Throwing up or diarrhea;
• Pink and crusty eyes;
• Doctor states they should stay home;
• Too sick for school;
• Any other condition that is infectious/contagious/spreads (including head lice).

It may be ok to go to an appointment at Intuition Wellness Center if your child doesn’t have any other symptoms besides a runny nose and a little cough. However, it’s always a good idea to consult with your child’s pediatrician and call your clinician prior to the appointment.

Please help the Intuition Wellness Center community and other vulnerable populations to stay healthy by resting when you’re sick. At Intuition Wellness we consider clients staying home due to illness an important act of self care and waive our cancellation fee for such instances.

When is sick too sick for you or your child? Let us know in the comments section below how you can tell when your child needs extra rest so that other readers can benefit from your wisdom!

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. Call us at 520-333-3320.

Written by: Brandy Baker, PsyD in collaboration with Co-Founder Yoendry Torres, PsyD & H.S. Intern Manasa Swaminathan

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30 Days of Gratitude!

There are a few of us here at Intuition who simply cannot resist a good-natured competition. So with a joyful spirit and plenty of determination, we are taking a gratitude challenge and we invite you to join us!

Beginning on November 1st, our team members invite you to our 30-day journaling challenge that will use these easy prompts from textmyjournal.com as inspiration.

 

30 Days of Gratitude Journaling Prompts

  1. What smell are you grateful for today?
  2. What technology are you grateful for?
  3. What color are you grateful for?
  4. What food are you most grateful for?
  5. What sound are you grateful for today?
  6. What in nature are you grateful for?
  7. What memory are you grateful for?
  8. What book are you most grateful for?
  9. What place are you most grateful for?
  10. What taste are you grateful for today?
  11. What holiday are you grateful for?
  12. What texture are you grateful for?
  13. What abilities are you grateful for?
  14. What sight are you grateful for today?
  15. What season are you grateful for?
  16. What about your body are you grateful for?
  17. What knowledge are you grateful for?
  18. What piece of art are you grateful for?
  19. What touch are you grateful for today?
  20. Who in your life are you grateful for?
  21. What song are you most grateful for?
  22. What story are you grateful for?
  23. What tradition are you grateful for?
  24. What challenge are you grateful for?
  25. What moment this week are you most grateful for?
  26. What form of expression are you most grateful for?
  27. What small thing that you use daily are you grateful for?
  28. What small thing that happened today are you grateful for?
  29. What friend/family member are you grateful for today?
  30. What talent or skill do you have that you are grateful for?

Why the focus on gratitude? Well, besides it being a natural fit to coincide with Thanksgiving festivities, gratitude has been studied extensively in recent years and, perhaps not surprisingly, an intentional practice of gratitude has lots of fantastic side effects, including happiness!

If you’d like more updates on our services or other activities, subscribe to our newsletter or pop on over to our Facebook or Pinterest pages for lots more great stuff.

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in counseling children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written by: Brandy Baker, PsyD

Image credit: Rory MacLeod

 

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Less than 10 Steps to a Calm Child… Using their Feet!

Everyone experiences anger— whether we feel it a lot, or hardly ever. Dealing with intense feelings like anger can be especially challenging for many kids (ok… and adults). Don’t you wish you knew how to help your kids calm down before they resort to behavior that could get them into trouble? One way to deal with big emotions is by using the “Soles of The Feet” meditation. That’s right. The bottoms of their tootsies.

Soles of the Feet -Free Printable-

Even for kids who haven’t exactly been excited about meditating in the past, this quick and easy approach can help children quickly calm down and resist the urge to act out. The purpose of this exercise isn’t to get rid of anger (which does serve a purpose!). The purpose is to teach your child to move their attention from angry thoughts and feelings to the bottoms of their feet.

Here’s How It Works:
1. If you are standing, stand in a natural rather than an aggressive posture, with the soles of your feet flat on the floor. If you are sitting, sit comfortably with the soles of your feet flat on the floor.

2. Breathe naturally, and do nothing.

3. Cast your mind back to an incident that made you very angry. Stay with the anger.

4. You are feeling angry, and angry thoughts are flowing through your mind. Let them flow naturally, without restriction. Stay with the anger. Your body may show signs of anger (e.g., rapid breathing).

5. Now, shift all your attention to the soles of your feet.

6. Slowly, move your toes, feel your shoes covering your feet, feel the texture of your socks, the curve of your arch, and the heels of your feet against the back of your shoes. If you do not have shoes on, feel the floor or carpet with the soles of your feet.

7. Keep breathing naturally and focus on the soles of your feet until you feel calm.

8. Practice this mindfulness exercise until you can use it wherever you are and whenever an incident occurs that may lead to you being verbally or physically aggressive.

9. Remember that once you are calm, you can walk away from the incident or situation with a smile on your face because you controlled your anger. Otherwise, if you need to, you can respond to the incident or situation with a calm and clear mind without verbal threats or physical aggression.

Resources:

And if you’d like to hear someone else lead you through the exercise, checkout this video. There’s plenty of research to back this up as useful with elementary school students, aggression, autism, and other developmental disabilities.

Question: What else works to prevent angry outbursts with your kids? 

Subscribe to our Newsletter for service and general practice updates or pop on over to our Facebook or Pinterest pages for lots more great stuff.

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in counseling children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written by: Meg Beardmore, MA & Brandy Baker, PsyD

Image credit: Rar285 on wikimedia commons

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Yoga in Therapy

Yoga in TherapyYoga and meditation methods have been applied in the treatment of depression and anxiety by western health care providers since the 1970’s. So what is yoga?  How does it help with mental health challenges?  And can it also be helpful for children who are experiencing challenges?

Before being able to understand how yoga might be helpful it is important to understand that there is often a physical as well as a psychological component to mental health challenges. Here’s the key, the cognitive or psychological struggles often found in mental health challenges are not separate from the body AND the associated physical challenges negatively impact our way of thinking. We are looking at two sides of the same coin.

Mental health professionals use an array of strategies that can be helpful in dealing with the cognitive or psychological aspects of these challenges. These strategies might include cognitive behavioral therapy, ego supportive counseling or other talk therapy approaches.   Research suggests that combining a body-based approach such as yoga with traditional talk therapy can effectively target both the physical as well as psychological aspects of mental health challenges (See the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry for information on the importance of treating the physical symptoms of depression).

The practice of yoga generally combines a series of postures called asanas, with specific types of breathing in conjunction with a meditation and/or a time of relaxation. Asana in conjunction with breath is used to support relaxation and to increase body awareness.  Improved body awareness helps provide feedback to us regarding our emotional state as well as the impact of our thoughts and choices. By learning to control the breath, we can also learn to regulate our emotions. Additionally, yoga directly impacts many of the physiological challenges associated with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Interested in more reading? Harvard has published research on the positive effects of yoga on anxiety and depression.

Research is also finding that yoga can benefit children.  The practice of yoga can help children who struggle with attentional difficulties learn to listen, to follow directions and can be used in a group setting to enhance social skills. Children who struggle with anxiety can also benefit from yoga’s focus on relaxation. More information is available here on the benefits of yoga for children with emotional and behavioral issues.

For more information on the application of yoga to support mental health treatment or to inquire about our yoga therapy groups please contact Intuition Wellness Center at (520)333-3320.

Written by: Navneet Lahti, LCSW and Certified Yoga Instructor

Photo courtesy of: freedigitalphotos.net

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Stress & Anxiety: Wellness Tips

Stress Management

According to the National Institute of Mental Health about 18% of adults in the United States experience an anxiety disorder while only 37% of those receive treatment. Meaning that about 63% of adults affected do not seek out services for treatable anxiety disorders. There are many triggers that increase stress and anxiety such as relationship conflicts, financial hardship, and school or work demands. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report 26% to 40% of workers responding to surveys reported that their jobs were very stressful. That is important because stress and anxiety impairs functioning whether that be academic or occupational, leading to injury or lower productivity. The first step to wellness is becoming aware of your physical and psychological reactions to stress and anxiety. Below are some common signs of stress and anxiety:

  • Headaches or backaches
  • Muscle tension and stiffness
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Skin breakouts (hives, eczema)
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds (impaired immune functioning)

Furthermore, scientific evidence suggests that stress impacts your physical health. Many medical conditions are caused or exacerbated by stress, including:

  • Chronic pain
  • Migraines
  • Ulcers
  • Heartburn
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • PMS
  • Obesity
  • Infertility
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Skin problems

Wellness Tips

  1. Know yourself – Understanding how you experience stress is a vital step towards identifying what is causing you stress and preparing for or preventing it in the future.
  2. Identify causes of stress – Knowledge is power. Once you know what your triggers for stress or anxiety are, you can take steps to minimize its effect.
  3. Eat healthy – Good physical health promotes good mental health and vice versa. Stressed people tend to overeat or make unhealthy nutritional choices, so choose healthy foods and eat in moderation.
  4. Be proactive not passive – Don’t just sit with your hands crossed waiting to feel better, cope with stress actively by engaging in healthy stress relieving activities such as exercise, art, music, or dance.
  5. Get plenty of Zzzzzz – Poor sleep hygiene can leave you tired and cranky in the morning making you more susceptible to stress, so get the recommended 8 hours of sleep on a regular basis.
  6. Laugh, it is good for the heart – Laughing produces feel-good brain chemicals that relief stress and promote wellbeing.
  7. Live in the now: Many people experience anticipatory anxiety for something that hasn’t happened or ruminate over past events not realizing that in the actual moment there is nothing stressing them.
  8. Social support – The ability to seek out and have social support has been associated with resilience, the ability to bounce back from stress. There is a reason why humans are social beings.
  9. Seek professional help: When symptoms persevere and begin to impact functioning in other areas of your life such as school or work, therapy has been shown to help.

Author: Dr. Yoendry Torres, Clinical Psychologist

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